Category Archives: Dance

María Pagés is Carmen

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For years, María Pagés resisted to recreate Carmen, the archetype of the Spanish woman. Now, after a long way through poetry and life, this sevillian dancer decided to reveal the femininity of freedom using flamenco dance as her creative tool.

Mar°a PagÇs y bolso Flamenco 1 (foto Javier Mor†n)With the support of the Loewe Foundation, María Pagés Company shows the most contemporary side of the Spanish culture, envolving different arts and linking creators from around the world with the universality of flamenco. As a symbol of this appropriate connection of cultures, the new piece I, Carmen has just had a wonderful success in Japan.

Sensual and daring, the choreography I, Carmen presented by María Pagés Company allows women to tell a story that creates spaces and brings cultures together through an open and contemporary dance; thus, the audience gets easily connected to I, Carmen.

The story of Carmen is presented from a female perspective and shows all the shades of feminity: from fragility to sensuality, from the outburst of the initiative to the tenderness of motherhood.

Carmen, a character who had become almost a cliché created to explain and justify male passions, now develops as a claim to life and freedom.

 

  Photographs: I, Carmen by María Pagés Compañía © David Ruano, 2014. María Pagés with the Flamenco bag in I, Carmen © Javier Morán, 2014.

Happy International Dance Day

NoverreByPerronneauLouvreIn 1982, trying to expand the visibility of dance worldwide and to find the appropriate way to integrate it fully in our society, the International Dance Council -founded within UNESCO- established the 29th of April as the International Dance Day. This celebration is open to all styles and fields as dancers are encouraged to organise activities around the world so dance will be performed in every corner of the globe, reaching audiences that otherwise could never enjoy it.

Each year, Dr. Alkis Raftis, President of the CID, writes a message which is distributed to more than 100,000 professionals in over 200 countries. The International Theatre Institute also requests another text to some prestigious dancer or choreographer; these two open-minded messages, together, offer a wide spectrum towards the internationalisation of dance. In 2015, the Spanish dancer and choreographer Israel Galván has raised his voice, and his message speaks off in the eclecticism of his dancing and his ideas. Why would we celebrate dance on April 29th? Because on this day, in 1727, Jean-Georges Noverre -the great revolutionary of dance- was born.

LettresNoverre1760During the 18th Century, dance was essential in the French court and aristocrats had to learn complicated steps; Ballet Masters, devoted themselves to their art, were trying to surprise and entertain the audience while remaining faithful to the rules of decorum and good taste of the Court. But during that period theater still carried certain encumbrances, partly inherited from the Greek Theatre: crinolines and corsets -in style those days- were hidding and blocking the movement of the dancers, and anachronistic costumes showed mythological characters on stage, dressed as contemporary courtiers.

Jean-Georges Noverre rose up to what he considered an absolute nonsense and opposite to the prevailing stage aesthetic. He demanded that the period and character of each dancer on stage should be respected, banning masks that could cover the faces of the performers; he wished dancers to have more freedom of movement… so the audience could see their evolutions on stage. Despite initial resistance and thanks to the support of Marie Antoinette, Noverre changed the course of dance forever. His Letters on Dancing and Ballets, published in 1760, is still considered as a reference book for both dancers or historians.

Happy Birthday, Master Noverre

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Photographs: Portrait of Jean-Georges Noverre by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1764. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Cover from the first edition of Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, 1760. William Forsythe’s Artifact, danced by Compañía Nacional de Danza © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2012.

Carmen

The Compañía Nacional de Danza, directed by José Carlos Martínez, brings Carmen back on stage. This emblematic title, breaks completely this time with the traditional point of view of the story, as coming to life in a new version choreographed by Johan Inger.

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These days, the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid hosts the CND, sponsored by the Loewe Foundation. It is a contemporary and courageous piece, which leaves Carmen on an equal plane; Johan Inger has created a new version that modifies the romantic image of the well-known Spanish character and sets the story in a social context that has to do with ourselves, with our present reality.

CarmenSombrasVallinasJohan Inger is an internationally renowned choreographer emerged from the Royal Swedish Ballet and the Nederlands Dans Theater, and former Director of the Cullberg Ballet; he has had the courage to face -precisely in Spain- a purely Spanish character, reconsidering the social and gender stereotypes of Carmen over the centuries. In collaboration with the actor and playwright Gregor Acuña-Pohl, Inger has been investigating fully the work of Prosper Merimée and has moved away from Bizet’s opera. Bizet’s work, with its brilliant score and scenes from the Spanish tradition, left a scar on several generations of people because of its romantic charm and manners; but perhaps alienated the authenticity of the original characters: Carmen and José.

From the original novel, dated in 1847, Inger has created a work that requires us to understand José’s crime as an attack on Carmen’s freedom, and shows a clear case of gender violence; it is an unjustifiable and morally reprehensible crime. A character especially created for the occasion -a child- accompanies the viewer throughout the play, witnessing everything from the stage. His reactions, emulating those role models playing before him, show our responsibility towards situations involving domestic violence. The jealousy and the violence of José -in past centuries explained by the behaviour of Carmen, the protagonist- are now preventable and reprehensible nonsense acts.

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With costumes designed by David Delfín, scenery by Curt Allen Wilmer, lighting by Tom Visser and original music composed by Marc Alvarez -completing Rodion Shchedrin’s original score –Carmen Suite, for strings and percussion- this Carmen seems destined to make the current audience discover the multiple perspectives that an emblematic story can always offer.

More information: 915 245 400, teatrodelazarzuela.mcu.es and at the box office of the theatre.

Photographs: Carmen © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

35th Anniversary of the Compañía Nacional de Danza

The Compañía Nacional de Danza has been celebrating its 35th anniversary since last October, when the special commemorative Galas were performed at the Teatros del Canal, in Madrid. Eclectic, diverse and touching performances brought on stage the most relevant pieces of its repertoire, remembering some of the brightest moments of these last decades.

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During the weekend of the great celebration, CND was not alone: ​​Company Director José Carlos Martínez, linking both memories and collaboration, invited two dance companies that were bonded to the CND in the past: Ballet Nacional de España -pair company when María de Ávila led both ensembles together- and Víctor Ullate Ballet – Comunidad de Madrid, in recognition to Ullate himself as the first director of the CND when it was founded, back in 1979. Moreover, a full set of costumes from the archives of the company was exhibited in the halls of the theatre.

FFinGenzanoCNDRaymonda Divertimento, Le Corsaire, Flower Festival in Genzano, Violon… all the repertoire performed portrayed the history, past and future of the CND; as a statement to the wonders of dancing, Minus 16 closed the evening. These performances paid tribute to María de Ávila and Tony Fabre -former directors of the CND and CND2 respectively- who passed away recently. It was an intense weekend, full of emotions that have been distilling festive atmosphere over the next months. Tours and new stagings have filled the agenda of the CND. Last January, the latest addition to the repertoire of the CND appeared: Don Quijote Suite.

After the original ballet choreographed by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorski, and a later version staged by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opera Ballet, José Carlos Martínez has built a truly Spanish version of the ballet Don Quixote. Toreros, gypsies, and a couple of main characters -performed by Yae Gee Park and Alessandro Riga- filled the stage of the Auditorium Víctor Villegas in Murcia (Spain). Gonzalo Berná conducted the Orquesta Sinfónica Región de Murcia. It meant a big challenge for the CND as the company faced a demanding work for all the members of the company. From the corps de ballet to soloists and principals, they were all involved in the moving story included by Cervantes in one of the chapters of his very famous novel. Another Spanish-scented ballet, Carmen, will be premiered by the CND next April in Madrid.

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Past and future are still gathered at the CND, as seen during the open dialogue between Víctor Ullate and José Carlos Martínez at the big stage of the Teatros del Canal last October. Moderated by Elna Matamoros, Ballet Master at the CND and adviser of the Loewe Foundation, the meeting brought more than an hour of cheers and memories, hopes and difficulties. It was the perfect metaphor of the project that José Carlos Martínez has brought back to the Spanish company, to which the Loewe Foundation recognizes as a soulmate and supports as its official sponsor in its artistic activity.

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Photographs: Kayoko Everhart, Lucio Vidal and Sara Fernández in Violon; Noëllie Conjeaud and Moisés Martín Cintas en Flower Festival in Genzano © Jesús Vallinas, 2014 for CND. Yae Gee Park in Don Quijote Suite © Patricio Valverde for CND, 2015. Corps de ballet in Don Quijote Suite © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2015.

From East to West with Compañía Nacional de Danza

Welcome to the blog of the Loewe Foundation. We are happy to announce that our blog starts a full section for our English-speaking friends and colleagues. Here you will find information about our projects on poetry, dance, photography, architecture and design.
This post is dedicated to the Compañía Nacional de Danza. The Loewe Foundation is the official sponsor of this prestigious dance company since 2013.
These days, CND is performing at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in Paris. José Carlos Martínez, Artistic Director of the company, will present a modern program that will delight the demanding Parisian audience.

The Compañía Nacional de Danza has travelled through China and Japan during the last months of 2014, showing its most eclectic side. CND succedeed with first-class performances at the Grand Theatre in Wuxi, the Shanghái Cultural Center (China), the Aichi Prefectural Arts Center in Nagoya or the KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama (Japan). The company astonished the audiences with the wide spectrum of dance styles performed.

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In China, a classical styled program included Holberg Suite -by choreographer Tony Fabre- and both Raymonda Divertimento and Delibes Suite, created by José Carlos Martínez, Artistic Director of the Spanish ensemble. Tutus, dancing on pointe and a flawless academic virtuosity invaded the shows. In Japan, Itzik Gallili’s Sub, Jirí Kylián’s Falling Angels and William Forsythe’s Herman Schmerman showed a company ready to face the demanding dance of the XX century. The skills, energy and versatility of the dancers delighted the audiences.

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A very special piece, Minus 16, by Ohad Naharin, was the link between these two shows as concluding the soirées, both in China and Japan. The audiences enjoyed the explosion of this magical choreography created by Naharin, as they were sharing the stage with the dancers themselves; there were real complicity and mutual understanding between the dancers and the audience.

OmotesandoCNDMoreover, José Carlos Martínez met the audience several times through this tour, so the presence of the CND went beyond those actual performances on stage. In China, Martínez was named Dance Adviser at the Central University of China and the company participated in different educational activities, like the ballet clases taught at the Shanghái Ballet School.

The bond between CND and Loewe went even further in Japan; two exclusive performances of the troupe at the Loewe Stores of Omotesando and Ginza (Tokyo) let the dancers take the beautiful Loewe spaces with a work of dancing improvisation specifically created for the ocassion. As in the opening of Apertura, in Madrid, the pairing Loewe-CND offered unique dance pieces; each one of these performances is always different.

For those following these past performances from afar, we want to include some extracts of the last show at the Loewe Store in Madrid, last September. After watching these images, we will wish to have one more show soon.

Photographs: Jessica Llyal and Mattia Russo in Loewe Omotesando © Koji Shimamura, 2014; Minus 16 © Jacobo Medrano for Compañía Nacional de Danza, 2014.